From Happy Valley To Nashville: Alum Shows Penn State Pride Through New Country Song

Like many Penn Staters, Tyler Bank spent his college days at the bars. But when he wasn’t grabbing a beer with friends, he was on stage in front of them playing guitar and singing with his band.

As a freshman, Bank and his randomly assigned roommate, John Wiater, loved messing around with their guitars and writing songs in their dorm room. Four years later, the pair were performing at Cafe 210 West with their band, “Riverbank”.

After graduating from Penn State in 2016 with a degree in supply chain and information systems, Bank moved across the country to Los Angeles. Although he was meeting people through the Penn State Alumni Association and even joined a country music cover band, Bank longed for the days of playing at Cafe.

“I would play an original every once in a while, and by the end of my senior year, [the crowd] would sing the words back to me,” Bank recalled. “It was such a cool feeling, and I missed it.”

So, after three years in Los Angeles, Bank packed his bags and moved out to Music City. Coincidentally, the only person Bank knew in Nashville was another Penn Stater, Colin Rowe.

Although Rowe wasn’t a member of Riverbank, he had played at Cafe during college, too. Riverbank would play on Wednesdays, while Rowe played on Fridays, and the friends would always go out and support each other.

The trio had many great memories from their time at Penn State, so when Wiater was in Nashville for the week, the old pals decided to get together and write a song about their favorite place.

“Any time Penn Staters get together, it’s just a good time,” Bank said. “We were just drinking and watching football, and we decided to write a song about Penn State. It was a very organic process.”

The gang drew inspiration for the song from Penn State traditions like the White Out, daylongs, and just hanging out at the bar with friends. Among the crew’s favorite memories is sitting front row together at the four-overtime Michigan game in 2013. The experience even inspired this verse in the song:

Grew up in those stadium bleachers // Touchdown on the speakers // Overtimes and homecoming games

Bank was also very involved in THON and served as a captain for two years. He even won the Mr. and Mrs. THON Pageant in 2013 with a song he wrote and performed with a friend.

“It was one of the first moments in my life where I thought I could really try to write songs and perform. I really hadn’t played in front of anyone before,” Bank said. “But then I thought, ‘I’m not bad at this.”

Aside from his involvement with Nittanyville and THON, Bank also wrote for Onward State during his early days as a Penn Stater, which he says was the catalyst for his songwriting. He jumped on any opportunity to cover a concert like Lady Antebellum or Vanessa Carlton, and he even contributed to this iconic Drunk, Sober, High: Sesame Street Live story.

“I went sober, which was unlucky,” Bank laughed.

Bank said that Penn State gave him so much that the least he could do was write a song about it to show his appreciation.

“That’s How We Grew Up” is available now on iTunes and Spotify. You can follow Bank on Instagram to stay up to date with his music.

“Bump it at your tailgates, play it while you’re drinking,” Bank said. “My dream is to hear it at Beaver Stadium one day.”

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About the Author

Grace Cunningham

Grace was Onward State’s social media manager once upon a time. She was also the host of Onward State's podcast. You should google "Podward State Wienermobile" for a good laugh. Nowadays, Grace is a copywriter or something. You can reach her at [email protected], although she doesn't know why you would want to.

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